Existential Time

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kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 01:23 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil. Albuquerque;163329 wrote:
Its a trick of mind, or of convenience, to think there really is a difference between being forced and caused...caused is obviously to being forced, even if by your own nature, which was inherited...

Well...I am freely going to bed now, since I am tiered ! Smile


You think there is no difference between voluntarily giving money to a beggar, and being forced to hand over my wallet to a mugger? Well, maybe in Portugal. But we still do not have that kind of government here-although we are getting there.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 01:46 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163333 wrote:
. But we still do not have that kind of government here-although we are getting there.


If Bush ever got back into power (heaven forbid) you could get a job writing sentences for him. You're much better at it than he ever was.
 
MMP2506
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 02:37 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;163327 wrote:
I feel the over-arching question of all philosophy is 'where freedom lies, in what does freedom consist?' We have a degree of economic and political freedom no doubt but for many, no real sense of freedom beyond that. I think the grand question of philosophy is that of realizing spiritual freedom, what the East calls Moksha, liberation. I don't know if we have a word for it.


That seems to be in line with the freedom that I am speaking of, but it does allow for determinism to also coexist.
 
qualia
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 04:22 am
@MMP2506,
This is a fantastic thread and quite simply highlights just what this site is capable of at its best. Fascinating stuff. I'm going to have to print it all out and study it, because too much is now going way over my head. I just don't have the conceptual tools to deal with many of the comments. But thank you, and thank you to everyone who has contributed.

Regarding a little on the freedom-determinism thing. This may come across as too much of a straw man argument, but wonder if it is possible to refute. In a nut shell, it is a deep suspicion of mine that freedom is possible, in the metaphysical Aristotelean or Satrean way of things, as oppossed to say Berlin's notion of positive and negative freedom in the social realm.

If free choice (free to choose) is to want what I want, then all my choices are free. Can I want what I don't want?

So long as the act of choosing depends on the me, all choices are free.
But am I free to want something other than what I want? Am I free to choose my acts with mighty metaphysical indifference? Free to determine my choices? Undetermined by anything, because what I choose is undetermined by what and who I am? In other words, am I free to choose myself?

I can only answer no.

If free choice -free will - is to be spontaneously Free, undetermined by my biological, intellectual, social, ideological conditions, to be this free, this significantly free, I would need to have the power to choose myself freely. The undetermined freedom of choice to determine self. And I don't believe I have this choice.


Such freedom in this sense is absolute. If determined, what significance is free choice other than a limping oxymoron?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 04:24 am
@qualia,
In some respects we are free and in others determined. People spend a lot of time arguing as to whether it is one or the other, I suppose because they seem to be opposites. But surely we are free in some respects, and not in others. Freedom is an elusive concept. We are free people and yet many things happen over which we have no say. As you said before, an important aspect of philosophical freedom is understanding exactly where to draw the line, how to distinguish the two.

One idea that I am working with is voluntarism. I am not sure what this means exactly in the history of philosophy, but what I mean by it is that we actually exist because of a free choice. We are all volunteers in life, not conscripts. In a trivial way, this is obvious, because we could apparently choose not to be alive at any moment. But then, this is more like relinquishing your freedom, rather than exercising it.

Of course from the modern viewpoint, this seems wrong, because we didn't choose to be born. But in the understanding of the traditional philosophies, the soul pre-existed this life and chose to be born. I don't know if I would say this is literally true, but in some ways it is a very positive attitude to have towards life. In fact, I don't see how it is possible to be free without having this kind of view.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 06:03 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;163327 wrote:
I don't know if we have a word for it.


Oh, I think I do!

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 08:07 AM ----------

jeeprs;163350 wrote:
In some respects we are free and in others determined..


But that statement begs the important question which is whether freedom and determinism are incompatible. It is not helpful to start an inquiry by simply assuming a reply to the central issue. Why then start the inquiry?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 06:14 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163361 wrote:
Oh, I think I do!


OK, if you have a word for the Hindu term 'moksha', meaning spiritual freedom, what is it?

kennethamy;163361 wrote:
But that statement begs the important question which is whether freedom and determinism are incompatible. It is not helpful to start an inquiry by simply assuming a reply to the central issue. Why then start the inquiry?


You could say that 'people like me are always destined to say things like this'. But that would be facetious, and we wouldn't want that. What I am saying seems like an obvious truth to me - we are free in some respects, and bound in others. And this is different to the views that 'everything is determined' or that 'nothing is determined'.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 06:21 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;163364 wrote:
OK, if you have a word for the Hindu term 'moksha', meaning spiritual freedom, what is it?



You could say that 'people like me are always destined to say things like this'. But that would be facetious, and we wouldn't want that. What I am saying seems like an obvious truth to me - we are free in some respects, and bound in others. And this is different to the views that 'everything is determined' or that 'nothing is determined'.


Please, jeeprs. Pas devant les enfants!

But, as I pointed out, you are begging the question. The question you are begging is whether determinism and freedom are incompatible, so that if one is true, the other is false. Even if everything (all events) are determined, how does it follow that some events are not free? (Unless, of course, you insist on begging the question, and define determined as implying not free).
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 07:09 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163333 wrote:
You think there is no difference between voluntarily giving money to a beggar, and being forced to hand over my wallet to a mugger? Well, maybe in Portugal. But we still do not have that kind of government here-although we are getting there.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 07:20 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil. Albuquerque;163379 wrote:


That I can refuse to hand over my wallet has nothing whatever to do with whether I am being forced to do so.

My conception of the State is, indeed "European based". The Europe of John Locke, and John Stuart Mill, and The Rights of Man. The Europe that fashioned the American Constitution. But not, of course, the Europe of Rousseau, or of Marx and Engels. I am against coercive utopianism, as it is now called. If you want to see the Europe's most recent monument to coercive utopianism, look at Greece, and, perhaps soon, Portugal.
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 07:35 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163383 wrote:
That I can refuse to hand over my wallet has nothing whatever to do with whether I am being forced to do so.

My conception of the State is, indeed "European based". The Europe of John Locke, and John Stuart Mill, and The Rights of Man. The Europe that fashioned the American Constitution. But not, of course, the Europe of Rousseau, or of Marx and Engels. I am against coercive utopianism, as it is now called. If you want to see the Europe's most recent monument to coercive utopianism, look at Greece, and, perhaps soon, Portugal.


---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 08:50 AM ----------

 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 07:51 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil. Albuquerque;163388 wrote:


Your reply reminds me of the story about someone who lectured in front of a woman's club, and said that the trouble with women is that they took everything said to them personally. Upon which one of the women in the audience popped up and said indignantly, "I do not!!".
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:09 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163393 wrote:
Your reply reminds me of the story about someone who lectured in front of a woman's club, and said that the trouble with women is that they took everything said to them personally. Upon which one of the women in the audience popped up and said indignantly, "I do not!!".
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:11 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil. Albuquerque;163396 wrote:


Yes, that is exactly what I meant.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 01:55 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil. Albuquerque;163309 wrote:



I'll agree that truth would be just about impossible without the notion of causality. Again, I think it's psychologically justified. I still say that perhaps it's learned, but it's something so essential to sanity and adjustment it may function as if automatic. I think it might be possible to reduce causality to unification. We bundle the "cause" and the "effect" conceptually, and doing this often enough makes it as easy as breathing.

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 02:58 PM ----------

qualia;163349 wrote:
But am I free to want something other than what I want? Am I free to choose my acts with mighty metaphysical indifference? Free to determine my choices? Undetermined by anything, because what I choose is undetermined by what and who I am? In other words, am I free to choose myself?

I can only answer no.


I think your question is spot on, and near the heart of the issue. I generally agree with your answer, but there is issue as to what this "self" is. I feel that "free will" is indeed a strange concept.

---------- Post added 05-12-2010 at 03:01 PM ----------

jeeprs;163350 wrote:

Of course from the modern viewpoint, this seems wrong, because we didn't choose to be born. But in the understanding of the traditional philosophies, the soul pre-existed this life and chose to be born. I don't know if I would say this is literally true, but in some ways it is a very positive attitude to have towards life. In fact, I don't see how it is possible to be free without having this kind of view.


I have heard that Mormons hold that we choose our own parents, prior to birth. This is a sublime notion.
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 04:10 pm
@Reconstructo,
I am not sure how we got from time to free will, except to say free will, determinism and god eventually pop up in most discussions.
Time or at least temporality (sequencing of events) would seem to be essential to both any notion of casuality and ironically of free will also.

There are certain notions employed in daily life that I am not sure can be seriously questioned (except in theory) these would include temporality, casaulity, an exterior reality and some ability to do otherwise (free will). I can do without determinism, god, eternal truths or any number of other metaphysical theories but not without the above hard core common sense assumptions, employed in practice even if denied in theory, presupposed in living and essential to survival in the world.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 04:22 pm
@prothero,
prothero;163601 wrote:

There are certain notions employed in daily life that I am not sure can be seriously questioned (except in theory) these would include temporality, casaulity, an exterior reality and some ability to do otherwise (free will). I can do without determinism, god, eternal truths or any number of other metaphysical theories but not without the above hard core common sense assumptions, employed in practice even if denied in theory, presupposed in living and essential to survival in the world.


I agree. I don't see how anyone truly lives without these notions.

 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:01 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;163294 wrote:
Then how come it is true that Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun?
Of course, Jeeprs was talking about Truth with the capital T , universally important ideas or eternal truths.
As Plato would say the position of mars from the sun is a justified true belief but it is not knowledge (not an eternal truth or a universal wisdom). :devilish:
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:13 pm
@qualia,
Historical footnote: the ancients and medievals all believed that the planets and starts occupied a realm of changeless perfection, the so-called 'superlunary sphere' which in many minds was heaven itself. The discovery of things that changed in this sphere, such as supernova, caused severe consternation. Even though this model came under pressure from the heliocentric view, Kepler himself was convinced that the orbit of the planets was defined by the Platonic solids. Then of course it gradually dawned on mankind that the superlunerary sphere is not a perfect world of changeless classical perfection at all, but mainly unthinkably enormous distances inhabited mostly by lifeless matter. So the great medieval sythensis and the Great Chain of Being came crashing down to be replaced by the lifeless mechanistic system of Descartes and Galileo.

And here we all are.:bigsmile:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 08:29 pm
@prothero,
prothero;163680 wrote:
Of course, Jeeprs was talking about Truth with the capital T , universally important ideas or eternal truths.
As Plato would say the position of mars from the sun is a justified true belief but it is not knowledge (not an eternal truth or a universal wisdom). :devilish:


So small letter truths are what, chopped liver? It is not important that Mars is the fourth planet? How about the second law of thermodynamics? How does that truth rank in the scale of importance? Is that not knowledge (or is it Knowledge) either? I was under the impression that Plato thought that a justified true belief was knowledge. By the way, what is true does not have to be known, so even if Mars is the fourth planet is a truth, it need not be known by anyone, and not so long ago it was not known by anybody.
 
 

 
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